Homelessness in Perth: A Week on the Streets
When I first toyed with the idea of going homeless for a week, like 105,000 Australian’s do every night, I immediately dismissed it as being too burdensome, too hard and not necessary for me. How wrong I was.
I met so many people on the streets of Perth: pregnant, gay, young, old, Asian, married, and abused. Naming just those few conjure up such bitter-sweet memories for me, it is they who hold the best reflection of our booming society. I often quip that Perth could pave the roads with gold and we’d still have money left over, however we’re doing a terrible job of understanding and supporting our most in need.
Homelessness in Perth exists and it is confronting. There were rich stories and insights into what happens in the underbelly of our city. I heard of prostitution, drug creation and seeking jail as a place of desire. It was difficult for me to listen to sheer disrespect of the law.
Our institutions thrive off being respected, but what can they do when they aren’t? They flounder. Whether it is the lack of respect for the police, law or government (or the lack of respect homeless people can get in return) it challenged my being.
I’ve been asked a lot: how can we solve homelessness? There’s a few ways. It starts with education, knowing how to operate in society, understanding that it is ok to reach out and also to support people in need, and also how to manage finances better. Too often I spoke with people that due to relationship breakdowns and financial difficulties they turned to the streets – mere metres away from where we work.
By providing access to jobs and training then we can start to support those already homeless into a life of greater dignity free of the pity we dole out to them.
We should be more conscious about homelessness in our lives, because it isn’t far away from us.
- Conrad Liveris